Massillon Blasts Warren Harding to Remain Unbeaten Ahead of Rivalry Game
Week 9 of the regular season is always a tough time for the Massillon program with the annual rivalry with Canton McKinley looming the following week. But there would be no looking ahead for these Tigers as they effectively took care of business on senior recognition night, downing visiting Warren Harding, 48-14. In fact, they built a large enough lead throughout the first half that there was a running clock for nearly the rest of the game.
Expect that Massillon will quickly put this outcome behind them and focus entirely on the task ahead; i.e., defeating the Bulldogs. Unfortunately for that team to the east, they will enter the fray on the heels of a 7-3 last-second loss to Canton GlenOak, a team that the Tigers defeated in Game 2, 56-7. But don’t think for one second that the difference in scores will have any affect on either the pre-game preparation or the intensity level these Massillon players will bring to the game.
Last week Ja’Meir Gamble rushed for 233 yards and scored two touchdowns, while the passing game produced a paltry 5 of 14 for 60 yards. But, if anyone thinks that this Tiger offense is one-dimensional, they are entirely mistaken. Warren, knowing that they had to stop the run to stay in this game, played man-to-man against the wide receivers, which permitted them to commit the remaining defenders to the run by stacking the box with up to eight players. Of course, this pretty much negated the Massillon ground attack by clogging up all the running lanes. Once this was evident, the Tigers went strictly to the air, with quarterback Da’One Owens putting up his best passing performance of the season. Through three quarters, prior to being lifted in favor of the backups, he completed 16 of 22 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns, with a long of 54 yards.
On the receiving end, the stars shone greatly. Jacques Carter caught five passes for 130 yards and two scores. Braylyn Toles grabbed four for 52 yards, Kyler Wiggins snagged three for another 18 and Emy Louis Jr. caught a pair for 62 yards and a TD.
Defensively, the Tigers were again stifling on the ground. And Dorian Pringle did pick up a sack to become the all-time single-season record holder for that mark. Warren knew they would not be able to run the ball, and they didn’t, losing a net 26 yards on 21 attempts (with most of the carries coming when the game was out of reach in order to keep the clock running and end the game as quickly as possible). So, they went strictly to the air and did achieve some modest success. But not enough to keep pace with the Tiger scoring machine. Three different quarterbacks spent some time behind center and they combined for 200 yards, while completing 14 of 34 passes.
The game began with a bang when Lewis returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown. He caught the ball at the eight yard line and then crossed the field to the right. The pre-positioned blockers did a magnificent job of plowing the road and Lewis then blew through and outraced any challenger to paydirt. It took 14 seconds. Mateo Herrera converted his first of six PATs and the Tigers were on their way to their ninth win.
On Massillon’s first possession they were stalled due to Warren’s stacked defense and Gamble found little running room. So, on the second possession the Tigers switch to an empty backfield formation and put together a 12-play, very methodical 83-yard drive that ended when Big Mike Wright plowed in from the one.
On their next possession they needed just five plays to cover 71 yards. Short passes to Toles and Wiggins got the drive started and then Owens hit Toles for 22 yards to advance the ball to the Warren 42. From there, Owens fired a dart to Louis on a skinny post and he did the rest, slipping by a potential tackler at the 15, to put the Tigers up 21-0 and essentially salt the game away.
There was no stopping Massillon at that point. On the first play of the subsequent possession Owens connected with Carter on a 54-yard score, who caught a short pass, turned the corner and outraced the secondary down the sideline. Two possessions later, the Tigers scored again following a fumbled punt snap. Gamble scored from the five on the 1-play drive, making the score 35-0.
Warren finally responded with a touchdown off a screen pass when LeMarcus Provitt secured a pass from Drew McKowan, broke a tackle and raced 79 yards to the end zone. But, Massillon responded 3-plays later with a 49-yard touchdown pass from Owens to Carter. It was another skinny post. The score placed the game in a running clock situation for the start of the second half.
In the latter stages Warren and Massillon’s backups each scored once. For the Tigers it was a 4-yard run by freshman Savior Owens. A 2-point PAT try failed, making the final score, 48-14.
Now, it’s off the McKinley game, where the Tigers own 75-53-5 advantage. They have also won the last seven games and eleven of the last twelve. And Massillon is where it wants to be: undefeated heading into next Saturday’s big game.